Authors Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes join us today to talk about Ordinary, Everyday magic.
Find THE DRAGON BRIGADE TRILOGY on Goodreads, and be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post!
Book 1: SHADOW RAIDERS
Book 2: STORM RIDERS
Book 3: THE SEVENTH SIGIL
Creating a magic system is one of the great challenges of the fantasy writer. The use of magic needs to be believable, which means magic has to have limits, a concept that can seem ludicrous given that you are dealing with a fantastical power.
Our newest book in the Dragon Brigade series is called, The Seventh Sigil—a sigil being one of the elements of magic in this world. Since Aeronne is essentially a world that is built on magic (land masses float on what is known as the Breath of God), we decided that the power of magic in our world should be widely available and relatively easy to use.
In order to make such a fantastic world believable, we detail how magic works on various objects, such as weaponry, and describe some of the drawbacks to the use magic. Attention to small details, such as how magic could make a pistol fire, helps the reader to suspend disbelief.
Magic in this world is based on six sigils: earth, air, fire, water, life, death. Primitive man learned how to combine these sigils in order to cause the magic to work for him.
About one third of the population are crafters who are born with the gift of being able to create and power magical constructs. Another third are channelers, who lack the power to create magic, but can “channel” the magic through the constructs, keep it flowing. The other third lack all magical skill.
In the advanced society of our story, crafters have discovered how to create constructs that are extremely complex and can used in a variety of ways, from heating the baker’s oven to lifting the king’s palace up among the clouds.
Such widespread reliance on magic can create problems, however, rather like our widespread reliance on electricity. What happens when the power goes out? In Aeronne, what happens when a mysterious foe attacks the world with contramagic, the ability to erase the magical constructs? Kingdoms could fall—quite literally.
Various magical constructs can be set onto a pistol, rifle or cannon to make the metal resistant to corrosion or increase the barrel’s strength. Constructs can take the place of firing mechanisms, allowing a single magical spark to fire a pistol.
When magic is used to enhance a weapon, we theorized that it would slow the technological advancement. Armorers concentrate on research and development of new or improved magical constructs as opposed to building a better weapon. For example, the development of the rifle came about when magic alone failed to improve a weapon’s accuracy. Gunsmiths discovered that “rifling” the barrel causes the ball to spin, giving it a flatter trajectory and greater accuracy at range.
Another factor that might cause the gunsmith to become less reliant on magic is cost. Magical constructs are subject to slow deterioration. Thus the navy is forced to employ crafters at great expense to maintain the constructs on their cannons, while the infantry commander has to worry about the constructs on the weapons deteriorating while away on campaign, where magical maintenance might not be available.
And when the enemy learns how to disable weapons by simply erasing the constructs, thus causing the warship’s cannons to explode, magic suddenly becomes a liability.
A magic system that is not perfect, but has flaws, foibles, and liabilities, is a lot more interesting and believable than one that is all powerful, can do everything.
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